Review: ‘The Syndrome’ takes a one-sided view of the controversy about shaken baby syndrome


“The Syndrome” by Meryl Goldsmith pursues a subject that proves to be urgent, fascinating and high stakes — the controversy surrounding shaken baby syndrome. It’s unfortunate then, that the documentary itself isn’t executed with more finesse and a broader perspective.

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Goldsmith’s film explores the shadowy world of child-abuse diagnosis, prevention and legislation, including powerful doctors who are committed to promoting what the film would argue is outdated science. The film shows that a triad of powerful pediatricians continue to promote shaken baby syndrome, turning a profit from their studies, centers and conferences. “The Syndrome” focuses on a few doctors who have chosen to speak out on the issue, even in the face of ridicule, threats and perjury charges.


Though the pro-SDS doctors turned down requests for interview, it at times feels like advertising for the doctors who did participate. The editing is shoddy and inelegant, with images and audio that don’t flow seamlessly, providing at once too much information and not enough. Unfortunately, “The Syndrome” fails to adequately elucidate the many nuances of this complicated subject.


“The Syndrome”

Not rated.

Running time: 1 hour 26 minutes.

Playing: Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills.